What defines an artist?

What defines an artist?

Is it a single piece of work that touches millions, or is it the consistent grinding out of good quality content that keeps a core audience enraptured over decades?

I don’t think there is an answer to the question, but it’s something that has sparked my curiosity over the past few years, what really makes someone or something great?

One of my favorite art makers is Studio Ghibli, that mastermind of animated work that has spanned decades, creating in my mind what can only be described as visual masterpieces that even 20 years later still enrapture me with their riot of colors and heartwarming stories of growth and perseverance.

Ghibli works are not perfect, nothing is, but they touch my heart, and have touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. Yet I still meet people every year who have never heard of Ghibli or any of its films, and look at me with a slightly puzzled look as I wax eloquently about how awesome they are.

No matter how amazing we think something is, there will always be someone who comes around and simply doesn’t think that what we love is anything special, much less worth taking the time to look at.

It’s that diversity of opinion that creates such a vast difference in the artistic work available to us. As people grow up and gravitate towards different aspects of culture and life, the work they produce becomes an amalgam of all these differing interests and gives us a huge swath of variety in the works produced.

So what some parts of society consider great work are laughed at by others as utter garbage not worthy of existence, it’s a sobering thought for those of us who work in any of the artistic fields since our egos tend to be quite sensitive to someone thinking our work is a piece of crap.

The world is full of everything and anything you can imagine these days, and I am quite happy to spend my days trying to create a space where people can laugh and cry and reminisce about their experiences through my work and the works of others I enjoy.

Especially Ghibli films, which are the most awesome and wonderful things ever and if you disagree you are obviously deranged.

Just saying.

Ghibli love: Princess Mononoke is a masterpiece and should have been a series.

This last month I have come to the stunning realization that Ghibli studio has created many more films than I was originally aware of, which has led to a series of beautiful nights alone spent discovering all the lovely worlds they have imagined.

I was first introduced to Ghibli through their great work Princess Mononoke.

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Now to start off, I do have some gripes with this movie, some trivial, some serious.

Probably the most trivial is the fact that one of my favorite aspects of Ghibli films is that generally they have a female lead, usually young, and very sweetly are able to show the young girls development, a coming of age story in many ways.

But the star of this movie is Ashitaka, a young man from a  cast out tribe who is stricken by the curse of a Boar God(although the concept of what exactly makes these creatures Gods considering they die from a bullet rather easily is a bit sketchy) who has gone mad and turned into a demon, leading Ashitaka to go on a journey to find out what caused the Boar Gods change and hopefully find a cure for the curse. I absolutely adore Ashitaka, he is everything sorely lacking in many anime series featuring male leads; strong, resolute, intelligent, caring and open to differing ideas. And yet this film is called Princess Mononoke! To this moment her presence in the film as some sort of central focus is just a waste to me, she has barely any development, is not needed in any sense to advance the story and the fact that her name adorns the title just irritates me to no end. Kind of like how the Zelda games are 98 percent about Link but are all named after a princess who barely plays a part in most of the games, except maybe breath of the wild(possibly some of the old nintendo titles).

Trivial I know, but annoying. Her name is in the title I think simply because Ghibli is habituated to making their leads female, although I could be wrong, who knows.

This leads to something more serious though, which is that Princess Mononoke SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SERIES. It annoys me to no end that Ghibli refuses to break out of it’s mold of just doing movies. The world built up in Princess Mononoke is wonderful, Ashitakas tribe background of being cast out and him being a Prince could have been fascinating, the development of the worlds animal Gods and their connection to the land and people, exploring how people interact with them, getting more imaginative with how the curse could affect Ashitaka and make him even stronger and have his actions reverberate more throughout the land , even seeing how the humans would deal with things after the death of Shishigami would have been cool.

Obviously none of this will ever happen(unless someone begged Ghibli for the rights to reboot it as a series so long as Ghibli liked the general direction? ANYONE!? PLEASE?!).

Regardless of all that, the film is visually stunning, it’s use of light and color, especially the scenes of transition when Shishigami went from his daytime form to night form were exquisite, and the changing of the land from life to death and back to life as Shishigamis head was restored to his body was breathtaking.

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Ashitaka was a wonderful character and it hurts my poor little heart that more anime developers these days do not develop their male leads more along this line, instead we are continuously subjected to the most idiotic of characters.

San could have been very interesting if she had been given more time to develop with backstory, and not been subjected to this weird love story with Ashitaka that just felt tacked on.

Lady Eboshi, although there were attempts to humanize her with her deeds of helping the lepers and helping prostitutes, just seemed like a complete ass to me and was completely devoid of any logic or emotion for anyone outside of her circle. The story just went, well, these miners wanted to mine, and the animals( who we know are conscious beings just like humans)were in the way, so we massacred them all, but we are nice to lepers so we’re allowed, solid reasoning right there folks.

 

This may seem like I am hating on quite a bit of the film but in reality it’s the fact that regardless of these irritations the film is still beautiful, the characters are brought to life wonderfully, even those not central to the story, the humor and seriousness are used perfectly, and the conflict between nature and progress was shown very well.

Overall though I think Ghibli did a wonderful job trying to balance so many different viewpoints and aspects to the story in such a short timeframe and as always pushed the bounds of what the meaning of quality art is.

NOW GET ME A SERIES PEOPLE!

With love, your friendly neighborhood Otaku.

Anime; will it continue to rise in popularity?

Love it or hate it anime has been growing and spreading it’s influence every year.

But even as it grows it struggles to mark a place within our entertainment industry, the biggest hurdle being that the large majority of anime comes out of Japan and there are significant cultural differences between Japan and the western cultures which could be it’s largest market.

I see more and more of our youth getting into anime, especially with the rise of Netflix and sites such as Crunchy Roll creating a legitimate place for studios to market their shows, but many people still view all anime in the same light as children’s shows such as Pokemon, and even very famous shows such as Naruto and One piece have such a large amount of silliness within them that people never end up delving into the more interesting shows tackling serious content. On top of that lies another problematic issue, which is Japanese studios need to include large amounts of nonsensical ecchi and incest themed content to their shows. Now I have no issues with sexual content within a show, real or animated, but at least make it cohesive with the story line. Many times these themes are just dumped into the middle of moments and situations and completely ruin them, they are generally awkward and don’t even lead to some kind of relationship or emotional connection between characters, they are just there to attract horny people to watch the show.

Many anime series are never finished as well, being used as simple draws to get people to read the manga, but this leads to people being turned off from beginning series they know will never finish as many are not interested in reading manga. There is also distribution issues..many, many people use illegal sites to watch anime as it is impossible to find legal versions online, as crunchy roll is in a constant fight to get the rights to get shows on their site. Netflix barely has any anime as well. To understand this fully all you need to do is look at studio Ghibli, their movies are world renowned and yet Netflix and Crunchy Roll do not carry a single one of their titles, why is that? it makes no sense whatsoever. Many shows come out in Japan years before they are ever released to other markets, and so the only option for those who want to watch these shows is to do so illegally. Personally I want my money to go to these studios producing high quality shows and would appreciate it if big names like Netflix and Crunchy Roll actually carried some of the most famous shows and movies in the business.

It’s a difficult issue and something I hope resolves as more and more people get into this genre and sites like Crunchy Roll grow in size and have the money to push back against stubborn studios who are not listening to what the world wants.

Personally I hope that western studios start producing anime and manga, it’s about time it expands. Especially for anime, people need to learn that not all anime have to come from Manga! there are thousands and thousands of amazing fantasy, sci-fi and other styles of books which would do fantastically well as anime. We keep getting these trash movie and tv series based off books when we have this incredible medium that lends itself perfectly to novels with large amounts of magic or other types of fantasy.

For now I will just be crossing my fingers and hoping someone with talent starts the ball rolling.